Mini review: The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. Published by Doubleday in 2013.

You’ve probably already heard of Yanagihara and her Man Booker Prize-shortlisted A Little Life, but it was her debut novel that intigued me. It’s about a seemingly immortal tribe – the Dreamers – on an exotic micronesian island who owe their longevity to turtles, and who are betrayed by anthropologist Paul Tallent in a tale that begins as morally ambiguous and ends in what can best be described as a domestic horror story.

The People in the Trees both entranced and repelled me. Rarely have I read a book that is so evocative; the Oceania jungle seems alive, and the ‘immortal’ tribe living within it feel disturbingly real. And whilst beautifully written, this book is made of harrowing stuff, with questions about the darker side of human ambition and abuse. A genuinely impressive read that leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth.

Do read: if you like exotic locations, villainous protagonists, challenging subject matter

Don’t read: if you’re uncomfotable reading about sexual abuse


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